The Mass: Central to our lives and to our Sunday
Lord Jesus Christ, high priest of the new and eternal covenant, on the altar of the cross you offered a perfect sacrifice to the Father; – teach us how to offer it with you. (Intercessions of evening prayer: The Divine Office)
This Feast of Corpus Christi we can gather as a congregation in church, though with greatly restricted capacity. We cannot have traditional Corpus Christi Processions. We can give heartfelt thanks for the supreme gift of the Eucharist, the gift of Christ’s sacrifice and presence. Be of good heart.
For so much of the past fifteen months our congregations have been “fasting from the Bread of Life”. I appreciate how difficult many found it, also many felt it unfair. Being able to join in offering Mass via streaming and parish radio was a rich blessing, but it fell short of gathering in church.
I am conscious of the ongoing postponement of First Communions and Confirmations. These are all sacraments so rich in meaning: children meeting Jesus in the Bread of Life for the first time and older children receiving the life-long gift of the Holy Spirit. The restrictions are still severe regarding funerals and weddings. The symbolism here is again very rich: at a funeral the altar symbolises eternal life, “dying Christ destroyed our death” and at a wedding the altar symbolises faithful love, “the love of Christ even unto death”.
With the enforced ‘fasting’ in all our lives, has our appreciation of the “Bread of Life” grown?
In our hearts has the absence increased our appreciation and love of the Mass:
- as a gathering of people of faith
- as finding hope and light in the Word of God
- as the offering of Christ’s sacrifice to the Father
- as receiving the ‘Bread of Life’, necessary food for life’s journey
- as a great prayer of thanksgiving.
I ask that we all discuss these matters with people of all ages, family members and parishioners. Encourage one another in the faith, encourage one another in returning to regular Sunday Mass as church-capacity allows. Help gather the community round the altar. Hopefully, it will soon be possible for all to gather for weekend Mass. Value all the elements of a Christian Sunday:
- a day of rest, a day for family and neighbours
- a day to have time to turn to God in prayer
- a day to gather round the altar to offer Mass together
May the fifteen months of the pandemic renew in all of us our appreciation of the loving-kindness of God and of his gift to us of the Mass. May returning to Mass be a source of light and love for those personally struggling as a result of the pandemic. Finally, let all of us “be a good neighbour to all”, and let us pray for one another.
“O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine! all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.”
+ Ray Browne
Diocese of Kerry
Corpus Christ Sunday 2021